Q: I just moved and hence, need to buy a lot of new furniture! While I was at West Elm today the associate gave me their credit card application and the “Design Dollars” rewards program seem to be a good deal. Are there any drawbacks?
A: Here’s a review (updated for 2015) of the pros and cons that you can expect with the West Elm credit card:
- Great Rewards: As you can probably guess, the most alluring thing about this card is the rewards program. It gives $25 Design Dollars for each $250 that is charged to the account. These Design Dollars can be spent on additional purchases and after reading the fine print, I don’t see any unexpected exclusions listed (can be spent on any merchandise at their stores, website, or an order through the catalog). Earning $25 for every $250 spent essentially means West Elm is giving a 10% rebate on credit card purchases.
- No Annual Fee: There is no fee for having the card.
- Rewards OR Financing, Not Both: On a given purchase, if you choose the 0% deferred financing, you won’t earn any rewards. It’s one or the other.
- Higher Interest Rate: The application on the website didn’t list the APR so I called up customer service to find out and as of the time of writing the interest rate was 19%. Obviously this is not the worst, but it’s not the best either. Speaking of cardholder customer service, that phone number is 1-800.695.3988. I didn’t see it listed on the website and had to be transferred around, so there is the number to save you the hassle I went through.
- 0% Deferred Interest: Depending on the West Elm store you go to and your creditworthiness, you might be offered a promotional 0% rate. The length can vary but the phone rep told me that 6, 12, or 24 months seem to be the most common. However unlike a regular credit card this is deferred interest; if you don’t pay it off in full before the time is up, your account will be charged the interest on the full purchase going back to the date you bought the items. You have to be very careful when using these types of 0% deferred interest promotions because they don’t work like the 0% offers on a major bank credit card.
- West Elm Prices: There’s no arguing that West Elm makes great furniture for urbanites but a common complaint about them is their pricing. Something you definitely need to ask yourself is if a 10% rebate is a better deal than buying similar items elsewhere for significantly less?
The Design Dollars are an excellent program and if you plan on spending thousands, then the rebate can really add up. However you should only apply for a West Elm credit card if you have the discipline to pay off the bill in full every month –or– pay off every penny before the deferred interest kicks in on the 0% offer.
Written or updated for September 2015